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The Difficulty of Growing Up


Just turning 13, Carl Foutley finds out what it means to grow up as a certain ex-foe is seen in a new light. Is he going to go with the flow or is he going to try to stand his ground?

Romance / Drama
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

"Mm-yup.. Sharp as ever." Carl said to his reflection in the bathroom mirror, getting ready for his first day in the eighth grade. Not that he does much anyway. His hair just naturally falls into place with a few swipes of his comb. He never would have thought this in the past, but to tell the truth, he has been ready for summer to be over with. It was oddly very boring around without having anything to do or not much of anyone to torment. A weird burnt scent made its way to Carl’s nostrils. Carl emerged from the bathroom to find its source with his impeccable sense of smell, it was stronger in the hallway and it didn't smell like burning food. He followed the scent to his sister’s room. He peaked in and Ginger was doing something weird with her hair.

"Ginger!" Carl said loudly, startling her. As she jumped the hair torture device hit her neck.

"Ow!" Ginger exclaimed. "CARL! Look at what you made me do!" She examined her neck in her small standing mirror, there was a brown burn mark clashing with her fair complexion.

"What are you doing to your hair, Sis?" Carl asked with a laugh.

"Well. I WAS straightening it." Ginger growled. "Do you mind, Carl?"

"Not at all." He said calmly. "You're just burning your hair. It's stinking up the house."

"Get out!" Ginger said as she threw a stuffed pony at Carl, which he swiftly dodged before leaving his sister's room. Carl went to his room and gathered some last minute stuff along with his new oddities magazine. Hoodsey would want to look through it.

"Carl! Ginge! Hurry up, Breakfast is waiting and it's not getting any hotter!" Lois calls up to her children. Carl makes his way down stairs, putting his stuff in his back pack in the process. Dropping his bag, he sat down and gobbled up his eggs and toast before his sister even reached the table.

"Woah, what’s the rush? We still have an hour." Lois claims watching Carl scarf his food. "By hurry, I meant more like get to the table. Not make yourself sick by eating too fast."

"Imma walk to school this morning." Carl said as he puts his plate in the sink and picks up his back pack, making his way out the door. "Good day." He said happily whilst closing the door behind him. He was feeling pretty good today, no telling why. He didn't question it. The morning solitude made it all the better. He almost forgot how long of a walk it was to the school alone.

"Wait!" He heard in the distance. "Wait for me!" He turned around and saw Hoodsey run as fast as he could towards him as if on cue. When Hoodsey made his way next to him they started walking together.

"How was the camping trip, Hoods?" Carl asked once his friend caught his breath.

"Same as usual." Hoodsey shrugged. "Mom got food poisoning again… Dodie is having some intense mood swings. That mix was bad, Carl. It was like world war four for like two whole days!"

"Well, at least JoJo can't blame this one on me." Carl said with a grin.

"Yeah." Hoodsey said with a laugh. "Other than that, the trip was pretty fair. How has the last two weeks been?"

"Eh.." Carl shrugged. "I managed to put a frog in Ginger's bed again. Other than that, I didn't do much and not a lot happened, Gripling didn't even attempt anything. It was actually pretty boring.. Although, I got the new oddities magazine if you want to borrow it. I already looked through it."

"Sweet." Hoodsey replied as they arrived at the front door just in time for homeroom. They both took their seats and as usual Blake Gripling was sitting behind them, daydreaming most likely. Blake stared at Carl for a few seconds grinning to himself before turning his attention elsewhere. Without notice to Gripling, Carl passed Hoodsey the magazine.

The day passed like any other school day. Hoodsey got picked up from school so Carl was walking alone back home. Half way home, a shiny black limo pulled up next to him. That could only mean one thing.

" 'Ay there old chap." Gripling greeted lightly once the window was rolled down. "How goes it?"

"Gripling." Carl nodded stiffly, still moving along the path towards his house.

"Would you like a ride home? It's a rather long walk from here and it's on the way." Blake said slightly hopeful.

"Uhh.. Sure." Of course it was on the way, they only lived about two blocks from each other inside the Protected Pines neighborhood. As soon as he accepted the door swung open, inviting him into the large back seat. Carl closed the door behind him and the limo sped off.

"Hot Chocolate?" Blake offered holding a cup out in front of him with a smile. Carl noticed a little pink in Blake's cheeks. From past situations, that never meant anything good was going to come out of this. He eyed him suspiciously before he took the cup.

"What’s all this about, Gripling?" Carl asked in a low tone of voice.

"...Why, I'm just giving and old friend a ride home." Blake said quietly, staring into his cup. Carl proceeded to stare at the suddenly shy blonde next to him with heavy caution. Gripling had a plan brewing, He just knew it. There was a short pause and Blake sighed loudly. "I have been doing a lot of thinking and I just want to let bygones be bygones. This going back and forth is rather tiring, Carl." Carl listened in between sips of the hot beverage. He thought about this all through summer since he hadn't seen a trace of him lurking around trying to get the petrified eyeball. Blake looked up at Carl with a sheepish expression. Carl was almost staring daggers into him, making Blake feel uncomfortable. He had been longing to be accepted by Carl ever since they met. He didn't know why, he just wanted his friendship more than anything. The best way to get his attention was to try to be a threat to that precious eyeball... and his tonsils. Blake really wanted his tonsils back. "Can't we just be friends without the nonsense for once?" Blake asked sincerely.

"...Friends?" Carl asked. Blake nodded. "This isn't some type of plot to get close to me so you could steal my eyeball, just so you know it is under heavy surveillance. It's not going to work, Blakey-boy."

Blake quickly shook his head. "No, No." Blake exclaimed. "I'm growing rather weary of these games, Carl. Honest. Perish the thought, I'm only trying to propose a sort of… Peace treaty.. If you will?" Blake was trying to get Carl interested by speaking his language and he succeeded

Peace treaty.. "As in a piece of paper, legally saying that our long run feud is over. Signed in front of witnesses..?" Carl asked, finishing his provided beverage.

"If you'd like to go that road, I suppose. I was sort of aiming for a verbal agreement but if the legal document makes you feel more at ease then I suppose I could have one written up..." Blake agreed. The limo slowly stopped in front of the Foutley Household and soon Winston was right at the door, holding it open for Carl even though he had told Winston that he didn't need to do that he still continued. Carl just assumed it was a habit.

"Hoodsey and I will be over tonight after dinner." Carl said plainly as he got out of the vehicle. "Thanks for the ride, Winston. It was much appreciated."

"Not a problem, Master Carl." Winston replied with his same old cheerful smile. "You have a good afternoon then."

"See you soon, Foutley." Blake said before Carl walked into his home. Lois and Dave were making dinner.

"Be ready for dinner in twenty." Lois said when he reached the stairs.

"Yeah. No problem." Carl said mindlessly, trying to absorb Blake's proposal. "I'm going to Gripling's place after dinner for about an hour or so."

"Okay.. Just remember it's a school night. I want you home at eight o'clock, Ya' hear?"

"Loud and clear, Lola." Carl said hurriedly before he continued up to his bedroom. He dropped his back pack and grabbed his walkie talkie.

"Carl to Hoodsey." He spoke into it. After a minute pause with no reply he said, "Come in Hoods!"

"Carl, what’s up? Dinner is almost ready." Hoodsey replied.

"We have a mission to accomplish at Gripling's house tonight after dinner."

"But.. Carl, you know my mom doesn't like it when I go out after dinner!"

"Just tell her Blake invited you over for tea or something!" Carl said as he plopped himself on his bed. "I'm sure she would be happy you're hanging out with someone who isn't me." Carl laughed. "I will meet you down the street from your house."

"We're walking?!" Hoodsey exclaimed.

"Oh it's not that far Hoods."

"It is in the dark..."

"Who knows, maybe Gripling will pick us up." Carl shrugged.

"Yeah. Here's hoping.." Hoodsey replied. Carl heard a screeching voice over the walkie talkie. "Dinner is ready, Carl. See ya later."

"Over and out."

Carl put his walkie talkie on the night stand and he stared at the petrified eyeball and the tonsils sitting on the shelf above the head of his bed. Blake seemed sincere… but what does he want his friendship for? True, that he doesn't have much for friends other than his butler… and sometimes Brandon Higsby, but he doesn't know anyone who can stand Brandon for a long period of time. He and Carl had been doing this back and forth, pranking and plotting for quite some time now. Maybe the plotting has lost its luster. Blake hadn't tried anything all summer, after all. Maybe Hoodsey is also bored with the schemes. They are just... probably growing out of it. Carl knew they would grow up sooner or later just not like this. He was going to be thirteen in a few months and soon all the 'fun' will start. Fun meaning the angst of teenage-hood. All the hormones and seriousness included to prep them for adulthood. It was all just happening too fast. He liked being a kid and he wasn't sure if he was ready to give it all up just yet.

"Carl, Ginge! Dinner!" Lois called from below the staircase.

Carl got up and stretched, slowly making his way out of his room and down the stairs. He sat down and slowly started eating his meal. Turkey-loaf and baked potato - no fruit cocktail baked inside. Carl continued contemplating the issue. Everyone else at the table was watching him since it was weird of him to be quiet. Not a peep from him.

"So - uh - Carl.. What are you going to the Gripling’s house for?" David asked him trying to engage conversation.

Carl looked at him, then his plate. "Classified." Carl stated dismissively.

"Should have known better." David chuckled.

"Mom, Pass the butter, please." Ginger asked not caring much about Carl's plans.

"How was the first day of school?" Lois asked her two children.

"It was normal, I suppose." Carl said. Ginger went on about some new classmate and an upcoming poetry competition. Carl was zoned out picking at his food.

Lois examined him for a while. "Carl are you feeling alright? You hardly ate anything." She stated with concern. "Are you sure you're able to go see Blake tonight?"

Carl perked up wanting to keep his plans, "I'm feeling fine, Lola. No sweat. I ate a large lunch is all. You see, I saved up some money and was able to get seconds for dessert."

"It's Mom.. and Alright.. If you say so." Lois said.

"Might I be excused? I gotta get going if I'm going to be home by curfew."

"Sure. Just rinse your plate before you leave!" Lois said.

" 'Kay." Carl did as he was told and he left right after, being welcomed by a black limo in front of his house, Winston was about to walk up to the door to ring for him but Carl beat him to it. "Winston! My man!" Carl greeted.

"Master Carl." Winston said cheerfully. "We are picking up Master Hoodsey at his place as well?"

"Yes, if you don't mind." Carl said getting into the back seat when Winston opened the door for him.

"Of course not, Sir." Winston said before closing the door. Blake wasn't in the limo, suppose he is awaiting their arrival. In no time Hoodsey was welcomed in and they were off to the Gripling household.

"What’s going on, Carl?" Hoodsey asked after he got in.

"Well, Gripling proposed a peace treaty. Much to my surprise. So to see if it's legit, we are going to see it for ourselves." Carl explained and recalled the conversation he had after school with Blake.

Hoodsey looked surprised. "You're really going to agree to this?" He asked.

"Well.. Yeah. If this isn't a joke just to get close to the eyeball."

"I, personally, think it's about time." Hoods said. Carl raised an eyebrow in interest. "This feud is getting a little old." He explained further. "It was fun when we were nine but now it's just.. silly. If he is offering peace and maybe a friendship then I think it would be a good start to a new chapter, ya know. We need to move on."

"Hoods. You're getting deeper every time I see you." Carl said putting a hand on his shoulder.

"Thanks." Hoodsey said looking a little pleased with himself. "But if Gripling is joshin' us then we can kidnap him or something, right?"

"Hmmm.. For once, I actually hadn't thought about the other outcome.." Carl said thoughtfully. "I suppose... or we could just dye his hair blue in his sleep or something."

The limo stopped and soon the door opened. Carl and Hoodsey climbed out, took a deep breath and climbed the stoop to the rather large front door. Carl knocked several times and the door automatically opened revealing a rather apprehensive looking Blake.

"Please come in. We will hold this meeting up in my quarters." Blake said quickly ushering them inside the household. Blake smiled at Carl and the trio climbed the grand staircase and turned down the corridor leading straight to Blake's large room. He had snacks and chocolate milk ready to be devoured, Just sitting on his coffee table. As they all got settled in, Blake pulled out a sheet of paper from a heavy, paper manila folder.

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